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Can You Take a Bath While Pregnant?

Ready for a relaxing moment? Here’s what to know about soaking safely during pregnancy.
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Updated June 6, 2024
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Of course, good hygiene is important, whether you’re pregnant or not. But it’s understandable to wonder if you should prioritize showers over baths while you have a bun in the oven. So does bath temperature when pregnant matter, can you use Epsom salts or soak in a big ice tub? Here, experts break down everything you need to know about taking baths while pregnant.

Can You Take Baths While Pregnant?

The good news is that, yes, you can take baths while you’re pregnant. Your body has built-in protections to help keep baby safe during your pregnancy, says Jennifer Leighdon Wu, MD, an ob-gyn at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. That includes your vagina, your cervix (which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus that connects your uterus to your vagina and the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby, she explains.

“You have all of these barriers to keep bath water from reaching your baby and to help protect the baby from getting outside infections,” she says. That said, you will want to take some precautions while taking baths during pregnancy. For starters, you’ll want to regulate the temperature of the water.

Can You Take Hot Baths While Pregnant?

It’s generally just fine to kick back in the tub when you’re pregnant, but hot baths are a different story. “Watch the temperature,” says G. Thomas Ruiz, MD, lead ob-gyn at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. “I don’t recommend super hot baths,” he adds.

There are a few potential concerns. First, you can end up feeling lightheaded when you’re exposed to too-hot temperatures in pregnancy. “You can faint. Your blood pressure can drop,” Wu says.

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Second, hot baths may pull blood away from your uterus and placenta to help cool you down, Ruiz says, and your core body temperature may rise. Research has also linked soaking in hot tubs for longer periods of time—especially in early pregnancy—with potential birth defects, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Are There Risks to Taking Baths During Pregnancy?

If you enjoy taking baths, doctors say you shouldn’t stop doing so just because you’re pregnant. “For a normal, healthy person, usually the bath is pretty safe,” Wu says. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind besides temperature when it comes to taking baths during pregnancy.

  • You could slip. Baths come with a risk of slipping and falling, making it important to at least be aware of this potential hazard.
  • You’re at risk of having vaginal irritation. Bubble baths, bath bombs and other products can lead to a condition known as vulvitis, which is essentially vaginal irritation, Ruiz says. That can cause uncomfortable symptoms like itching, redness and swelling in your vulva.
  • You may interfere with your vaginal pH. While Ruiz says that there’s “nothing inherently wrong with taking baths,” he recommends limiting yourself to just a few a week. “You’re washing out good bacteria in your vagina, and that can impact your vaginal flora,” he says.

Benefits of Taking Baths While Pregnant

Despite a few potential risks, doctors say that there are plenty of perks to taking baths while you’re pregnant.

  • It’s relaxing. Kicking back in the tub can help you unwind, Wu says.
  • It may ease pain. A warm—but not hot—bath can help with lower back pain and even hemorrhoid pain, if you have it, Wu says.
  • It can cool you off. While most people take warm or hot baths, Wu points out that you can also use your tub as a mini pool. “A cool bath can help you cool down when you’re very sweaty,” she says.

How to Safely Bathe While Pregnant

Again, doctors say you shouldn’t stress about taking a bath during your pregnancy. However, there are a few things you can do to bathe as safely as possible during this time.

  • Watch the temperature. Your bath should feel warm, but not hot (more on that in a moment). If you’re concerned about your ability to monitor the temperature, consider investing in a bath thermometer, or lower the maximum temperature of your water heater.
  • Be aware of slip hazards. Having a bath mat with a non-slip bottom next to the tub and getting in and out slowly can be helpful for lowering your risk. You can also add non-slip treads to the inside of your tub if you’re concerned about slipping and falling.
  • Keep your bathroom well lit. Keeping the lights on while you bathe lowers the risk you’ll slip and fall while you get in and out of the tub.

What’s the safest bath temperature when pregnant?

Pregnant women shouldn’t let their core body temperature get higher than 102.2°F, especially in the first trimester. However, it’s not likely that you’ll overheat in a bathtub, given that the water cools over time and your upper body is out of the water.

To be safe, consider testing the water with a bath thermometer and make sure that the water temperature stays below 100°F. Ruiz actually recommends that his pregnant patients keep their bathtub temperature “in the mid 80s” to be safe, but you do have a little wiggle room here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you take ice baths while pregnant?

It’s probably best to steer clear of ice baths while you’re pregnant. “I would try to avoid the extremes of really cool and really hot,” Wu says. Ruiz agrees: “Anything that’s going to alter your core temperature too much will affect blood flow to the placenta,” he says.

Can you take an Epsom salt bath in pregnancy?

Epsom salt baths can be helpful during pregnancy, Ruiz says. “Epsom salts can help you relax,” he says. Just follow the instructions on the label on how much to add to your bath and when.

Can you take a milk bath during pregnancy?

While a milk bath shouldn’t be your go-to way to get clean, doctors generally say that it’s fine to take milk baths from time to time. Use unspoiled, pasteurized milk and be sure to wash off well afterward.

If you enjoy baths while pregnant, have at it! As long as you keep the temperature in check and follow a few safety rules, doctors say you should be just fine to soak up these sessions during your pregnancy.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Sources

Jennifer Leighdon Wu, MD, is an ob-gyn at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She earned her medical degree from the University of South Carolina at Charleston.

G. Thomas Ruiz, MD, is lead ob-gyn at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. He earned his medical degree from UC Irvine School of Medicine in California.

Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol, Maternal use of hot tub and major structural birth defects, June 2011

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Can I Use a Sauna or Hot Tub in Pregnancy?, September 2021

Learn how we ensure the accuracy of our content through our editorial and medical review process.

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